Keeping Children Safe Online

Online (web)

In a world that is increasingly connected, protecting the most vulnerable age groups from online predators can be a tough task.

ESET Ireland – the spyware protection company – has compiled a survey on the social network predators and the risks they pose to minors.

According to the company, online predators gain a bulk load of information from social networking sites – such as Facebook and Twitter. In 83% of online crimes, the offender used a social network to gain viable information on the person. In terms of home or school information 65% of offenders gain information online.

“Predators may seek out children who are participating in attention-seeking behaviors as a way of finding connections with others,” said Urban Schrott, an IT Security and Cybercrime Analyst with ESET.

“Sadly, these kids seeking connection are generally the ones least apt to have a concerned adult that they will feel to whom they feel they can turn, to report solicitation.”

Urban crafted a list of ways to combat the problem of online predators such as: making sure children online only speak to people they know in real life, such as friends from school, and warn them to avoid discussions with strangers online especially conversations around sex or violence. He advises parents establish rules about when it is okay to share photos or give contact information out.

“The idea of establishing rules is not to make a child fearful of strangers, but to instill in them an ability to scrutinise communications in a way that comes from a healthy sense of self-worth,” said Urban.

The study coincides with another survey carried out by ESET earlier this year showing that a large number of children over the age of 13 are being left alone online.

“Children are naturally curious, and the Internet can be a great way for them to learn and explore, given reasonable boundaries to guide them. With proper adult guidance, they can gain the confidence to protect themselves throughout all their online and offline endeavors,” said Urban.

By Liam Cahill